Birmingham City Council

Birmingham Council Moves to Redevelop Two Blighted Properties in the Western Area

Birmingham is pursuing a plan to redevelop the site of the old Adams Inn in the Downtown West redevelopment area. It has been vacant since 2014. (Source: Google Earth)

The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to expand urban renewal and redevelopment plans in the city’s Arlington-West End and Downtown West areas, with the goal of acquiring and redeveloping two blighted properties.

The city’s urban renewal and redevelopment plans, many of which were established in the early 1990s, focus on redeveloping properties in blighted areas. They can include possible incentives for outside developers to clear or improve land and allow for the sale of city-owned land below market value.

In Tuesday’s vote, the council expanded the boundaries of the Arlington-West End plan 27 acres to the northwest to property formerly occupied by the Larkway Gardens Apartments. Those buildings, vacant since 2007, had become “pretty much magnets for crime” before their demolition in 2016, said Michael Ward, principal planner with the city’s Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits.

The property has been overgrown since then, Ward added, noting that he had found 50 examples of blighted conditions on the property.

The boundaries of the Downtown West urban renewal and development plan were not changed, but Tuesday’s vote placed focus on the former Adams Inn property at 300 10th St. North, which had been the site of three fires between 2009 and 2014, the last of which left one person dead. The property was demolished in 2014 and since then has become an overgrown lot.

The city holds demolition liens on both properties and, as a result of Tuesday’s vote, will begin efforts to purchase the buildings from their current owners.

Assistant City Attorney Jim Stanley presented the acquisition as inevitable. “We’ll make an offer to the owner based on the appraised value,” he said. “A lot of times, owners will go ahead and accept that. Sometimes if they don’t agree with that or they want to go to court, we can do that. But our authority to condemn the property … is pretty clear. Sometimes they see that the city’s going to require it one way or the other and just decide to save the time and trouble and accept the offer.”

Once the properties are acquired, the city will send out requests for proposals — about a 30-day process — before selecting a developer. The city hopes to pursue mixed-use developments for both sites.